Our sewing book club’s selection for May was Lunch Bags! from Stash Books. I like these Design Collective publications — each pattern is by a different author (usually an Etsy seller and/or blogger), so you get lots of variety. I’ve had this book since soon after its release, but it is not one of the many that sits idle on my shelf. (OK, shelves.) Even before we chose it for the meeting, I’d completed four of the twenty-five projects, and a couple of those I’d made multiple times. The last one I completed before we met was the contribution from Elizabeth Hutton, the drawstring lunch bag entitled “It’s a Cinch,” seen below in its natural habitat:
It’s rare that I need to pack a lunch for myself, but any of the little bags in this book are awesome for all kinds of other things too: suitcase organization (bag o’ socks!), gift bag, shoe sack, snack or activity bag for road trips, crochet/knitting project tote…
Overall, I liked the results I had with this design just as I have with most of the others in the book. A few notes that may help if you make this one:
- I cut my bag exterior, top, and lining from three different fabrics. If you do that, it’s fat quarter friendly — just cut the handle pieces from the scraps you have left after the first step, “Trimming the Corners.” If you’re particular about things like clouds being above trees and animals staying on their feet, don’t use directional fabric for the exterior or lining. Each side of the bag will have the print aligned in a different direction. (And yes, that’s quite perceptive of you, I did indeed use cotton cording in place of the self-fabric drawstrings. But still, you would be able to squeeze them out of the fat quarter you’d use for the bag top.)
- I used fusible fleece to interface the exterior (batting/interfacing is listed as optional). The pattern calls for trimming the batting from the seam allowances after stitching up the sides, which seemed like it would be far more trouble than it was worth since mine was fused. So I just pressed the seams open so that there wasn’t any significant bulkiness at the seams.
- Because of the bulkiness of the exterior, the author designed the diameter of the top and lining to be slightly smaller, in an effort for them to nest better during the final assembly. I really loved that attention to detail — a trait that showed in other areas of the pattern as well. But unfortunately in this case, the exterior actually ended up a little too much bigger than the other pieces, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t avoid a few puckers. Your mileage may vary on this; different battings are thicker than others, etc. Next time I would sew the four side seams of the exterior with closer to a 3/8″ seam allowance (up from 1/4″), which ought to get it close enough to avoid the puckering.
- The bag shape is cut as one piece, then large squares are removed from each corner, creating what is essentially a plus sign whose corners get stitched up to make it three dimensional. I loved this easy and quick method, and I plan to play with it for future designs. The drawback is that it requires a larger piece of fabric (versus cutting each side piece individually).
At some point, I’ll review my results from some of the other projects. Ciao for now, dahling… have your people call my people and we’ll do lunch bags again soon.